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Teams set extra-base hit mark, too

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs and Florida Marlins set all
kinds of home run records in Game 1 of the NL championship series
Tuesday night.

They combined for seven home runs, an NLCS record. Ivan
Rodriguez, Miguel Cabrera and Juan Encarnacion all homered in the
third inning, the first time an NL team has hit three homers in one
inning.

The Cubs' nine extra-base hits also was an NLCS record, as was
the 17 total extra-base hits.

"I don't know," Marlins starter Josh Beckett said when asked
to explain the offensive burst. "It was a bad day for pitchers."

Storm before the calm
Florida Marlins starter Josh Beckett found out
very quickly that in a big game like the NL championship series,
less is better.

Beckett's adrenaline was racing in the first inning of Game 1,
and the Chicago Cubs quickly took advantage. They scored four runs
off Beckett, including a two-run homer by Moises Alou.

"I was trying to do too much in the first inning," Beckett
said. "Pudge (Rodriguez) cleaned me out a little bit. He helped me
focus. After the first inning, in my mind, I was going to do
less."

Beckett allowed just one hit over the next four innings. He did
run into more trouble in the sixth inning, though, giving up a
two-out, two-run homer to Alex Gonzalez that tied the game at 6.

But his teammates eventually bailed him out. Ivan Rodriguez
homered and drove in five runs for Florida, and Mike Lowell hit the
game-winner, a pinch-hit solo homer in the 11th inning.

The Marlins won 9-8 in 11 innings. Game 2 is Wednesday night at
Wrigley Field.

"When you get to this stage of the season, winning the game is
the most important thing," Beckett said. "It doesn't matter how
you do it."

Besides, Beckett has bigger things to worry about now. Like
starting Game 5.

If there is a Game 5, that is.

"Oh, that's true," Beckett said when told there won't
necessarily be a Game 5. "Guess I did kind of jump the gun on
that."

Pitch for next season
Corey Patterson may be hurt, but the Chicago
Cubs haven't forgotten what the outfielder did to help them get to
the NL Championship Series.

On the disabled list since July 6 with torn ligaments in his
left knee, Patterson threw out the first pitch before Game 1
against the Florida Marlins on Tuesday night. Fans gave him a loud,
warm reception as he trotted out to the mound, and a few of the
Marlins even applauded him, too.

"These fans are great fans, they've been great fans for many
years," Patterson said before the game. "And my teammates are
still behind me. I know they haven't forgotten about me."

Patterson has been in uniform and in the Cubs dugout for every
playoff game. He also was included when the team was introduced
before Game 1.

While Patterson is grateful to be included in the Cubs' best
postseason run since 1908, he admits it's tough being a spectator.

"It's hard to sit here and watch them play, but I wish the team
well," he said. "I know I was an addition to why the team has
made it so far. Just as the other players put the effort and time
into it, I was part of it as well. That's what you have to tell
yourself.

"I helped the team get to where they're at," he added. "I was
part of that until I got hurt."

Patterson was hitting .298 with 13 home runs and 55 RBIs when he
got hurt. He also had five triples and 18 steals.

He was trying to beat out an infield single against the
Cardinals when he landed awkwardly on the bag. Though he initially
thought he sprained his knee, tests the next day showed he had torn
the ACL and cartilage in his left knee.

Patterson hopes to be running again in a month or two, and
expects to be ready for spring training.

Speed trap
Marlins manager Jack McKeon is no fan of the radar
gun that measures the speed of pitches.

"Some of the young pitchers at times -- you not only see it in
the major leagues, you see it in high school and college -- they all
have the tendency to look at the gun to see how their doing and if
they can top it," McKeon said before Tuesday's opener of the NLCS.

McKeon said he's never asked for the gun to be shut off so his
pitchers won't peek at it when they're on the mound. But he does
encourage pitchers to be more attentive to the other aspects, like
command and location.

"Our guys have not paid as much attention as they used to," he
said of the radar gun.

"I think sometimes it is a detriment, really. But what are you
going to do? That's how we scout today. We scout by the gun. We
don't scout by how they can get a hitter or how they ball moves.
It's how hard you throw."

Surly starters
The Cubs pitching staff has had its share of
heated moments against opposing teams this season, and Mark Prior
makes no apologies for them.

"People have pointed the finger at us as pitchers saying we're
instigators. I don't think we have been," Prior said. "There have
been a couple of instances and I think they might have been blown
out of proportion. But we're an aggressive team."

When the Cubs played in San Francisco in April, Prior hit Barry
Bonds in the upper thigh -- two days after Kerry Wood hit him twice.
An agitated Bonds walked toward Prior, who motioned him on.

And just before the playoffs, St. Louis reliever Steve Kline
said he hoped Prior "takes a line drive to the forehead and we
never have to see him again." Several of the Cardinals -- including
manager Tony La Russa -- have questioned the Cubs' aggressive
pitching style.

Prior said the reputation doesn't bother Cubs pitchers.

"It's not because we're trying to be bad guys or have this bad
boy image," he said. "It's what we have to do to be successful."

"We'll throw up and in to get guys off the plate. Whether we
want to be considered tough guys or not, that's not for us to
decide."

Tasty wager
Judging from a wager between the mayors of
Chicago and Miami, both expect to savor a victory in the NLCS.
Miami's Manny Diaz is betting a case of stone crabs on the Marlins.
Chicago's Richard Daley -- normally a White Sox fan -- is betting
such popular Chicago foods as Connie's Pizza, Eli's Cheesecake,
Goose Island Root Beer, nuts and other snacks from Nuts on Clark,
Robinson's Ribs, Vienna Hot Dogs and 95 packages of Wrigley Gum --
one for every year since the Cubs last won the World Series.